A Vision for the Future

The Grand Rapids Research Center opened with 33 biomedical research teams.

Grand Rapids Research Center opens

A Vision for the Future

The Grand Rapids Research Center opened with 33 biomedical research teams.

On September 20, 2017, MSU officially opened the Grand Rapids Research Center (GRRC), shepherding in a new era in biomedical discovery.

The GRRC is a critical project for building on success, as Grand Rapids has become a sought-after destination in the nation for medical research talent. The concentration of medical education, clinical practice, and academic research is attracting scientists eager to join the MSU College of Human Medicine and area partners such as Spectrum Health, Mercy Health St. Mary’s, Van Andel Institute, and Grand Valley State University. As the leading researchers have shown, they accomplish together what none could have done alone. And now they have space for growth.

Initially, the building will house 33 principal investigators and their research teams. At full capacity, the GRRC will house 44 teams, poised to find answers in autism, inflammation, transplantation, cancer, genetics, pediatric neurology, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, infertility, and endometriosis, as well as reproductive cancers, among other critical health issues.

The GRRC was carefully designed to maximize research productivity. Researchers share core labs to run experiments, which promote broad collaboration and eliminate duplication of expensive equipment in multiple places. Informal gathering spaces on each floor make collaboration and sharing ideas a natural part of day-to-day operations. Within the labs, partial walls and moveable benches not only allow for casual meetings, but also the flexibility to adapt to changing needs.

The GRRC expands the hands-on research experience of medical students with some of the world’s foremost researchers. Approximately 84 percent of students in the College of Human Medicine participate in research with faculty, compared to the national average of about 74 percent.

The center is also anticipated to be an economic driver for the region, attracting new businesses and growth in the biotechnology sector.

As extraordinary as the building itself is, the research that will be conducted inside is most important, says Norman J. Beauchamp, Jr., MD, MHS, dean of the College of Human Medicine.

“We know that people are waiting for relief from debilitating diseases. Helping them requires scientific discovery,” Beauchamp says. “The real impact is not about a building, but putting these great minds together with the best resources so that they can germinate new approaches, better treatments, and tomorrow’s cures.”

To help construct the GRRC, MSU announced lead gifts in May 2016 of $15 million together from Richard and Helen DeVos and Peter F. and Joan Secchia. As the Empower Extraordinary campaign reaches its culmination, the college continues to seek philanthropic support to reach the $40 million fundraising goal for the center. More than $26 million has been raised, leaving an additional $14 million dollars in transformative opportunity.             

To learn more about supporting the College of Human Medicine and the Grand Rapids Research Center, contact Assistant Dean for Advancement Susan Halloran at Susan.Halloran@hc.msu.edu, or call (616) 234-2827.

Author: Lois Furry, '89